What is stress?
Most people think of stress as emotional, however, the body views anything that is putting it under strain in a much broader way. For example, eating badly is a stressor to the gut, exposure to toxins is a stressor to the liver and walking around in pain is a stressor to your physical body. Stress can be emotional, physical and /or physiological.
These means an individualised approach to each one can reduce “stress". Using osteopathy for physical stress, diet and nutrition for physiological stress and meditation for emotional stress for example.
The body responds to stressors in a number of ways which includes the release of hormones such as adrenalin or cortisol as well as from a nervous system interaction too. Both are actually linked and feedback to one another. The nervous system response is well known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Both stress response systems have evolved to save our lives in times of danger, however, our modern lifestyles can very commonly lock us into a constant state of low grade stress.
This can cause a continuous and chronic release of cortisol or a low grade firing of the sympathetic nervous system which is detrimental to us. Stress is basically a state of “breaking ourselves down” to provide fuel to rescue ourselves and run away or fight. It is not meant to be a constant day to day response.
Stress, Your Adrenals and Thyroid
As mentioned, stress tends to come from cortisol and adrenaline which are made by your adrenal glands and powered by the fight or flight side of the nervous system. Your thyroid gland is also involved which regulates your metabolism (energy levels), sleep and weight gain / loss. Stress tends to unfortunately dampen the performance of your thyroid gland much like a see-saw, one side goes up and the other side goes down.
Most thyroid issues are initially triggered with high stress. A common scenario is feeling tired, lethargic and overweight and thinking your thyroid is low. However a thyroid blood test very often comes back as ‘normal’. The problem is the blood test is a snap shot of only one system and it may be totally missing the underlying cause. Your thyroid is tired but still working well enough to keep your blood test normal, however, you certainly don’t feel normal! The attention very often needs be focused on the adrenals and stress.
At The Perrymount Clinic, Christian Bates very successfully uses the Avatar Advanced Nutritional Scan to determine the correct sequence of treatment based on Naturopathic Principles. Learn more here: www.theperrymount.com/avatar
Are you angry, tired, over-weight and can’t sleep?
One study found these problems creeping in when the participants got stressed
- Over-eating / binge eating 48% increase
- Skipping meals 39% increase
- Fatigue 52% increase
- Drinking alcohol to manage stress 18% increase
- Smoking 16% increase
- Laying awake at night 52% increase
- Anger / irritability 60% increase
The symptoms & detrimental effects of stress
- Memory performance declines
- Feelings of depression, anger, tension, and fatigue
- Decreased feelings of vigour & energy Immune system lowered (frequent colds that last too long)
- Food intolerances and sensitivity Reflux, heartburn, acidity
- Friendly gut bacteria lowered (IBS and bowel issues)
- “Bad” gut bacteria and pathogens increased
- Risk for heart attack increased
- Inflammation and joint pains
- Menstrual cycles problems, PMS, PMT
- Lowered libido Infertility (see our Natural Fertility Support handout)
- And so much more…
Stress, Your Hormones and Fertility
Chronic stress detrimentally affects both male and female hormones. The stress pathway to cortisol is shared with the male & female hormones (progesterone, oestrogen & testosterone). What this means, is if you are in high stress mode your body will run this preferentially over making hormones as the stress pathway saves your life in times of danger.
The body prioritises saving your life over having a pain free menstrual cycle or getting pregnant for example. This means that stress in a female can lead to all kinds of hormonal, menstrual cycle issues and fertility difficulties. Stress in a male tends to lead to getting angry / irritable, weight gain around the belly and lowered sexual interest due to lower testosterone.
Female hormone issues related to stress
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- No periods
- Mood swings
- Fertility issues
- Low libido
Did you know stress gives you a fat belly?
Ever noticed how people gain weight in different areas? Belly, thighs, boobs, bum? Have you noticed how some people can eat anything and not gain weight? Stress makes you gain weight on your belly, a “pop belly” look.
Thyroid issues make you gain weight on your hips and thighs.
This is because the cells in these areas are more sensitive to those hormones. For specific diets and food plans for your own body shape and ‘body type' visit: www.theperrymount.com/bodytype
Diseases associated with high stress response
- Heart disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Bowel issues
- Gut infection (candida)
- Decreased immunity (frequent colds, run down)
- Insomnia (poor sleep)
Balancing Blood Sugar
Balancing blood sugar is an amazing way to calm the stress hormones and also balance the hormones in general. When blood sugar rises and falls the stress hormone cortisol rescues the fall to bring our blood sugar back to a safe amount. If you are stressed you have high cortisol, if you have low blood sugar you have high cortisol. Add the two together and you have really high cortisol!
Eating in a specific way can balance this. We will educate you on this as part of your Functional Medicine & Naturopathic Support plan.
How nutrition can help stress
Nutrition, supplements and eating well can be the buffer between the stressors you are being exposed to and the symptoms of ill health you are experiencing from them. Stress is like running your car at high speed the whole time. You will use up petrol and oil faster and you will generally make things wear out. Good nutrition is like replenishing the petrol and oil and giving continuous maintenance to the car so it can continue to run at high speed before breaking down. There is a buffer between the fast driving and the breaking down.
It’s the same for the human body, we can improve health naturally to put a buffer in-between the stress and the person becoming ill or getting a stress associated disease. The actual solution of course is to slow the driving down, or in real terms remove the actual stressor. However, in many cases the emotional stressor is hard to remove, commonly it could be work related and leaving your job is unrealistic.
If you are a mum the stressor could have been having children and you still have them!
The Perrymount Clinic offers a number of solutions to the detrimental effects of stress through Functional Medicine using the Avatar device, naturopathic and nutritional advice, supplements, physical treatments, emotional treatments, heart rate variability testing, specific food plans to your body and a Natural Chef to help your cooking skills and offer recipes.
Call 01444 410944 to book your de-stress Avatar appointment or book the Avatar with Christain Bates online here: https://the-perrymount-clinic.cliniko.com/bookings#service
The Perrymount Clinic, Haywards Heath